Current Events / Reflections

“Disabled Community” and “handi-capable:” Empty Words

"Foot Down" by David Amsler via Flikr Creative Commons

“Foot Down” by David Amsler via Flikr Creative Commons

Anyone who knows me well, has heard me speak extensively on the word “handi-capable.” I hate it. I often find its speaker to be desperate and cloying and quick to say such stupid things just because they are uncomfortable in the presence of someone with a disability. I take offense to hearing it because it is often said to me when I voice legitimate concerns about achieving my goals with a disability or walking in this skin. Whatever I say can be magically dismissed by saying “I don’t see you as handicapped, I see you as handi-capable. You can do anything,” and that puts an abrupt end to the conversation. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell, just an empty word. In researching disabled perceptions, one can find many empty words, one of them being “disabled community.”

It’s a comforting thought, really; that there’s a group of people who just get it. What it’s like to be different, and have a part of your body that doesn’t work properly and that there are those in the world who will judge you because of it. People, who can quote the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and who will stand with you in the face of personal trials and discrimination; a platform to voice shared experiences. Several online communities like #BlackLivesMatter and #BlackTwitter have had success in providing communities a digital space to congregate and share (unfortunately, formed often after the occurrence of tragedy or discrimination)—so why can’t a community of over a billion strong get it together? If you actively search for “disabled community” you will find splinters of what could be. There are associations for every disability under the sun—from The Association for Multiple Sclerosis to Autism Speaks. There are also the individuals who post to their own social media accounts using #PWD (people/persons with disabilities) and the handful of rebels who use #NotYourInspiration, but there nothing of the sort exists for disabled people.

It all speaks to me of the possibility of something bigger; in the united states nearly 60 million people have a disability as defined with the ADA, globally, it is believed to be over a billion (exact statistics are not known as many international governments don’t have legislation recognizing persons with disabilities and many cultures hide or kill disabled people because of religious or cultural beliefs). Even taking into account those that may not have access to the internet or who may be unable to participate in online forums, we are still left with millions upon millions of strong voices. If you think this is a worthwhile idea, share and post using #HumanNotCause about what a disabled community and disabled voices look and sound like, and follow CrutchesAndSpice.com.

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